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Case Number 07027

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Bad Apple

Paramount // 2004 // 91 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 17th, 2005

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All Rise...

You know what Judge David Johnson is sick of? When studios label their discs as part of the "Full Screen Collection." No one out there should be nurturing a "Full Screen Collection."

The Charge

Once you're inside, there's no turning back.

Opening Statement

Chris Noth (Sex and the City) stars in this black comedy that mixes suspense, colorful villains, and sharp writing. Does the film pull off its tenuous balancing act, or is this Apple rotten?

Facts of the Case

Noth plays undercover FBI agent Mike Tozzi, a slick, fast-talking cop assigned to catching notorious loan shark and suspected murderer Tommy "Bells" Bellavita (Robert Patrick, Terminator 2: Judgment Day). Tozzi is partnered with the short-tempered Agent Gibbons (Colm Meaney, Con Air), whose already complicated life will soon get more complicated when his wife shows up and is drawn into the case. Meanwhile, as Tozzi gets close to Bells through his mousy informant, he falls for the informant's sister, Gina (Dagmara Dominczyk).

Unfortunately, Bells also is nurturing a thing for the girl, which adds further instability to the inevitable moment when Tozzi and he will square off. But when Bells gets loopy after discovering the truth about Tozzi, he kidnaps the agent and the girl and takes off, leaving a swath of property damage his wake, as well as a disjointed FBI operation that suddenly falls under the auspices of the city's big mob boss, "Buddha" Stanzione (Elliot Gould). So pay attention: Gibbons wants to bring in Bells, but Stanzione feel she's gotten out of control, so he wants him dead. Bells is so unhinged he's ready to whack anyone in his way, and Tozzi is just trying to get out alive.

The Evidence

Bad Apple is relatively entertaining, sharply written and acted, and at times very funny. What ultimately deep-sixes it from contention for "weekly sleeper hit" is its tedious pacing and uninvolving plot.

First the tasty part of this flick. The cast is excellent, and the actors really embrace their characters and have fun with them. Noth plays the hapless but smooth Tozzi well, lending him tangible charisma. No matter how dire the situation, Tozzi doesn't sweat (e.g., he and Gina, handcuffed and in the custody of Bells, opt to give it a go and try for a quickie while waiting for their captor to return with a chainsaw). Meaney is the go-to guy for "obnoxious bastard" and executes the grumpy shtick well enough, and Gould essentially plays his Ocean's 11 character with a mobster's flavor.

But the guy who steals the show is Robert Patrick. He runs off with every scene he's in. Bells is a villain, no doubt, but Patrick manages to get the audience to root for him. He's that likeable a goon, even when he's slamming some poor guy's head on a table for not paying back his loan. Patrick defines the black comic tone of the film, and his performance almost makes the film worth a look in itself. Thankfully, the actors also have some good lines to chew on. The script is sharp, and though the narrative is ultimately too lackadaisical and meandering, the dialogue is quick and funny.

However, it's all for naught. The plot of the movie is essentially "Tozzi and Gina get caught, talk to Bells." There's a little flair when the FBI is overtaken by Stanzione, and some of the cat-and-mouse stuff with Tozzi, Gina, and Bells is fun, but the haul to get to these high points is an arduous one. If only the pacing were as quick as the dialogue.

Paramount has distributed this as a completely barebones release. A good-enough-looking full-frame picture is the highlight. There are no extra features.

Closing Statement

Bad Apple isn't a subpar movie. Its heart is in the right place, and the cast is outstanding, but pacing issues and a blah story sour what could have been a sweet fruit. This half-assed release by Paramount doesn't help anyone either.

The Verdict

Close, but we gotta go guilty on this one. Back to the orchard with you.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 80
Audio: 80
Extras: 0
Acting: 90
Story: 70
Judgment: 75

Perp Profile

Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Comedy
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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